YAKIMA, Wash. — Richard and Chyrstel Mayer weren’t just browsing Friday at the annual Home and Garden Show in the Yakima Valley SunDome.

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They really wanted to find — and hire — an artisan to refurbish an existing wood floor in the Yakima house they just purchased. “We’re actually here on a purpose, on a mission,” said Richard Mayer, 47.

Many shoppers at this year’s installment of the Central Washington Home Builders Association annual trade show perused the displays of contractors, roofers and vacuum vendors with a noticeable sense of urgency.

They wanted to get to work. Some couples were planning for the house they hoped to build; others just sold their homes and wanted to spruce up their new ones.

“It’s an older home and it needs everything,” said Mayer, who recently retired from sales. He and his wife, a Yakima school teacher, plan to invest $10,000 a year for several years on insulation, roofing and bathrooms.

The region’s uptick in home sales seemed to partially drive the interest. During the fourth quarter of last year, existing home sales increased by 13.1 percent from the same period in 2011, according to the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington. Median prices have been rising and houses are not staying on the market as long as they were in the past few years.

One real estate agent even warned the Mayers not to bother with one particular house because it already had a waiting list.

Craig Myers, managing partner of Standard Paint and Flooring, said Yakima homeowners are cautiously crawling out of the recession by investing in their homes. He cited a healthy 2012 apple crop, valued as one of the state’s best ever, that helped the sales spike, as well as recent construction in the craft brewing business.

“We’re surprisingly busy,” Myers said.

New floors are a popular choice this year, while bathrooms and kitchens are the old standbys. And the color gray is making a big comeback.

George and Ann Aldous, married three years, sold George’s Selah home in July and are anxious to put the extra money toward the Yakima house they share now. The retired couple plans upgrades to the kitchen and bathrooms, trying to make the house nicer for themselves, as well as keep it at reasonable price for when they resell down the road.

“We’d like to stay in this house for another 10 to 15 years,” said Ann Aldous, 65, after checking out the Standard display.

Marcy Lombardi and Gary Knapp, both 70, of Ellensburg visited the Home and Garden Show looking for ideas for a home on 3 acres on the edge of town they are hoping to build.

Seven years ago, Lombardi purchased a new home that was the right size for just her. A few years later, she and Lombardi, a former classmate from Los Angeles, reconnected at a high school reunion. Now they need something bigger.

Lombardi feels her home is stuck between very small homes, selling like hotcakes in Ellensburg, and large luxury homes. But she is reluctant to go too low on the price.

“I don’t want to give it away,” she said.

• Ross Courtney can be reached at 509-930-8798 or rcourtney@yakimaherald.com.